McCain and the Bear

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Goodbye, pigs, and take your lipstick with you. Wall Street’s roaring bear market is bringing the political debate back to the very serious things that confront the country. On the front page of the New York Times today, Jackie Calmes (late of the Wall Street Journal) does a good job of laying out the records of the two candidates on dealing with the financial markets. It seems to me that the challenge going forward is a bit trickier for McCain. His image is as a reformer, but his record is as a deregulator. And deregulation, of course, is one of the reasons we have a crisis on our hands.

As Jackie notes:

While Mr. McCain has cited the need for additional oversight when it comes to specific situations, like the mortgage problems behind the current shocks on Wall Street, he has consistently characterized himself as fundamentally a deregulator and he has no history prior to the presidential campaign of advocating steps to tighten standards on investment firms.

He has often taken his lead on financial issues from two outspoken advocates of free market approaches, former Senator Phil Gramm and Alan Greenspan, the former Federal Reserve chairman. Individuals associated with Merrill Lynch, which sold itself to Bank of America in the market upheaval of the past weekend, have given his presidential campaign nearly $300,000, making them Mr. McCain’s largest contributor, collectively.